The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao announces LIKE BEAUTY IN FLAMES, a new work by renowned artist Jenny Holzer that presents her signature text-based art through the medium of augmented reality (AR). This unique artwork, made exclusively for the museum’s collection and available through a standalone application for mobile devices, provides three distinct AR experiences—two site-specific works that engage the Guggenheim Bilbao’s architecture and a third that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. LIKE BEAUTY IN FLAMES harnesses new technology in a continuation of what Holzer does best: placing thought-provoking texts in the public sphere in a democratic and accessible way.
At the Guggenheim Bilbao, an AR version of one of Holzer’s LED signs glides through the central atrium, the column bending and spiraling as Truisms in English, Spanish, Basque, and French scroll past. Each of the museum’s three floors provides a different experience, as the LED’s interaction with the building’s architecture shifts depending on one’s vantage point.
Outside, AR projections appear on the museum’s facade from five locations around the campus in a virtual echo of the artist’s monumental 2019 work For Bilbao, which was presented in conjunction with her retrospective exhibition Thing Indescribable. The texts selected by Holzer for the AR projections are by other authors; the work’s title, LIKE BEAUTY IN FLAMES, is borrowed from Polish poet Anna Świrszczyńska’s poem “Beauty Dies,” one of the many arresting texts that Holzer has made into immaterial spectacle.
The artwork’s final component enables users to see Holzer’s Truisms take form in space in any setting. This new possibility embodies the spirit that has informed Holzer’s practice throughout her long career of placing language in the public domain to spark reflection and contemplation.